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IN THE NAME OF ALLAH!                129
out this injunction with a literalness that was highly commendable. They had come here, not to examine their fellow-worshippers, nor to be examined; their only business was with Allah, and to Him they gave themselves up with a fervour that was unforgettable to a sympathetic alien observer.
Long-robed Cairenes sat, bowed or prostrated themselves near tarbush-topped, European-attired business men; the fortuneless poor paid their homage to Allah while mingling with the fortunate rich; and the scholar, his head packed wit}, the lore of a thousand tomes, did not disdain to take his place behind the illiterate street-gamin. Their profound reverence and complete concentration could not but impress a looker-on. Such was the democracy which Muhammed had established within these old, red, white and gold walls and under the pointed Saracenic arches of this beautiful mosque.
For the mosques of Cairo imprisoned a heart-appealing beauty that caught me in turn helpless each time I lingered in them. Who could look from base to capital of the hundred odd exquisite white marble columns that arcaded this building and then turn his eyes towards the noble arches of the domed, ornamented, brown and gold roof without yielding his unreserved admiration? Who could set eyes on the geometrical arabesques which adorned the stones of the main arch without feeling real pleasure ?
I got up and moved reluctantly away. My slippered feet took the slowest of steps, the while I gazed anew upon the colourful scene. There were the carpeted parapet-surrounded dais whence a white-bearded man had chanted verses from the Quran to us; the holy praying niche, flanked by two slender columns, and the delicately carved wooden pulpit, whose ivory-inlaid walnut door bore an ancient inscription—all bearing the imprint of that artistry with which the Arabs have enriched the world. Around the walls stretched friezes of gleaming gold-lettered Arabic sentences taken from the Qurany the shapely characters providing a decoration in themselves. The lower part of the walls was lined with many-coloured marbles. Everything was grandly spacious, as though the builders had not stinted land for the house where men might foregather to worship Allah.
I crossed the tile and mosaic pavement and reached the vast court—nearly two hundred feet broad—where a marble quadrangle lay roofless to the winds of heaven. Four wide colonnades